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Wetterich claims Louisiana Open victory

Brett Wetterich shot a final-round 2-under 70 to win the 2003 Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by Dynamic Industries.

Wetterich notched his first career win on the Nationwide Tour with a 24-under-par 264, tying the tournament record. He was three strokes clear of runner-up Ken Duke (71).

"This feels really good," said Wetterich. "This is my first win and it will boost my confidence for the rest of the year."

The former PGA Tour member wasted no time getting started Sunday as his 25-yard chip on No. 1 found the bottom of the cup for an eagle. He then built his lead to as many as four shots at one point.

A 3-foot par putt on the final hole sealed his first professional victory in just his ninth career start on the Nationwide Tour.

"I wasn't confident until I hit my drive on the last hole," said Wetterich. "I knew it was going to be a battle today but I definitely wouldn't have thought 2 under would win."

With the victory, Wetterich collects $85,500 and gains fully-exempt status on the Nationwide Tour for the remainder of 2003 and 2004. The check was the second largest of his career, topped only by the $101,500 he received for finishing in a tie for eighth at the 2002 Honda Classic.

Duke applied pressure on the back nine with four birdies and at one point pulled even with Wetterich, but bogeys on Nos. 16 & 17 derailed his title hopes.

"You have to take your hat off to Brett," said Duke, who collected $51,300 for his efforts. "I actually think he won the tournament yesterday. To shoot 8 under yesterday afternoon in that weather was really good."

Duke leaves the Lafayette area with the confidence to compete on the Nationwide Tour in 2003, however. "This gives me a good start to the season," he said. "I worked hard the last two weeks and showed I can compete with these guys."

Wetterich defeated what many considered the strongest field in Nationwide Tour history.

Wetterich and the Nationwide Tour take a two-week break before teeing it up again at the First Tee Arkansas Classic in Hot Springs Village April 17-20.

Wetterich leaves the Lafayette area with more than just a trophy -- he'll have many happy memories as well.

"The tournament took care of us so well this week," said Wetterich.

"The food is so good here. I've eaten so many crawfish that I'm sick of them. But as soon as I leave here that is exactly what I'll be doing again tonight."

Only this time he won't need the tournament to pick up the check.


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